Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.14

The international coronavirus pandemic has put a brick on the gas pedal for one Ballston startup called GoTab, which was facilitating social distancing before it went mainstream.

GoTab locates nearby eateries and pulls up the menu, allowing customers to place their own orders directly into the business’s system and schedule a pickup. It’s more efficient than phone orders and is less costly to restaurants than delivery services like GrubHub.

“We do think the world is going to more online, it just went more online a lot faster,” said Tim McLaughlin, CEO of GoTab.

McLaughlin said the original design for GoTab was use in-restaurant for things like placing orders on your phone rather than waiting in line. It’s an idea that McLaughlin said is increasingly popular, pointing to Starbucks’ mobile order program. GoTab also benefits from having no need to create a profile or download an app.

Placing orders for takeout and delivery (by the restaurant’s own drivers) was just a side feature of GoTab, but COVID-19 changed that. McLaughlin said while the eventual goal is to get back to in-restaurant use, takeout and delivery orders have taken the spotlight.

“It had always been a feature but not something we sold by itself,” McLaughlin said. “Takeout was not usually the majority of the revenue, it was always something that was bundled along with on-premises. Now that’s changed. Because it’s cost-effective, we just kind of said ‘let’s help restaurants get online quickly and easily.'”

As also reported by Washingtonian, the company is offering its tool for free to restaurants, taprooms, breweries and others that have been affected by COVID-19 related shutdowns.

Seeing heavier use than normal, the website had some technical bumps last week, but McLaughlin said they’ve been worked out. The main struggle has been adapting the tool even further to the extremes of social distancing.

“There’s things that are different now that we’ve had to implement quickly,” McLaughlin said. “People used to come in and talk to the host, but now people are standing outside the restaurant. People might bring [food] out and never exchange cards. It’s clean and low-to-no contact, but in order for that to work, need a way to communicate without face to face.”

McLaughlin said the company took the texting tools utilized already for the hotel side of GoTab and repurposed those for restaurant use.

Even once the pandemic is over, McLaughlin said he thinks there will be an permanent impact on the restaurant industry, and more mobile ordering is going to be a part of that.

“We’re not going back,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a population shift towards using your phone to do that for a whole host of reasons, one of them is that you know your order is right because you put it in. People also don’t want to stand in line… I think this is just going to push it a lot further in that direction. People are going to be fearful for a while about germs and it’s just convenient.”

Photo via GoTab/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Ballston-based web development startup OpenWater Software has put together a guide for other businesses to replace physical meetings and conferences with virtual ones.

OpenWater CTO Kunal Johar said in the guide that while in-person meetings are invaluable and irreplaceable, a good online meeting can salvage some of what is lost.

“The rising impact of health concerns around the coronavirus is forcing organizations to reconsider, cancel or postpone their annual gatherings,” the company said in a press release. “Because a majority of OpenWater’s customers rely on annual meetings, conferences and summits, they created a downloadable guide and instructional video that shows step-by-step how to transition your physical event into a virtual event using Zoom, or similar meeting tools like GoToMeeting. OpenWater is not affiliated or being paid by either company.”

Johar suggested having one meeting URL per physical room that you would have had at a conference. A spreadsheet can keep track of which host will be running which room with permissions to manage that room on Zoom. These URLs can be published on a company’s site through a link.

In the guide, Johar said to make sure in settings you allow people to join before the host and to auto-mute everyone as they log in and disable sounds.

“As opposed to increasing risks to physical health or completely canceling an event or meeting, virtual conferences ensure that attendees can still benefit and view recordings from any session while keeping their sponsors happy by allowing them to have dedicated virtual sessions or incorporating them in the beginning or middle of a session,” the company said in the press release. “By following this guide, event managers can transition their event to be virtual in one day with ease and without prior tech experience.”

Johar also suggested, in communications with attendees, to include links to how attendees can access refunds from travel and booking companies.

Image via OpenWater

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

There are a lot of ways not to launch a startup. Unstuck Labs, a small company in Rosslyn, aims to help entrepreneurs avoid the early pitfalls of a new company with a course aimed to walk small companies through the process.

“We’re sort of Yoda for startups,” CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf said. “Most days, the team here is helping people with modules and helping guide people.”

The company guides startups in a 12-week program. Ten startups have gone through the program and Ashshowwaf said 100% have raised some kind of seed funding and 60% have generated revenue.

The company is based out of Spaces (1101 Wilson Blvd) in what was once the Artisphere. Ashshowwaf said the Rosslyn location means they have good access to bigger companies like defense contractors, small entrepreneurs, and a variety of academic resources.

The course works in 18 building blocks that take entrepreneurs through the methodology of building a company. For the more technically-inclined, the focus might be on marketing, for those with a marketing background the focus might be on how to build a business model.

Ashshowwaf said the entrepreneurs that come to them are generally people who are just getting started or people who have launched a company but have struggled with growth. The startups are typically smaller in scale — Ashshowwaf said there’s a lot of “Uber for something” type companies and startups that bring chefs to people’s houses — while others are people like engineers and doctors who have big solutions for a problem but don’t know how to take that to market.

The number one mistake most new startups make, Ashshowwaf said, is starting with a solution in search of a problem.

“They build an app for tech that they like, but they don’t talk to customers,” Ashshowwaf said. “It’s Thor’s hammer. It’s a product just for you and no one else can use it.”

Unstuck Labs walks entrepreneurs through the technical side of starting up an app or a website, but Ashshowwaf said they also guide them through the business side, like reaching out to potential customers to get feedback and looking at how to scale a project.

Ashshowwaf said Unstuck Labs is different because instead of just giving out tools and reviewing work, the company is very hands-on with helping guide each person through the process.

The course is $9,470 with Unstuck Labs having the rights to invest early, after graduation.

Unstuck Labs is taking applicants for their startup studio. Ashshowwaf said the ideal applicant is someone who is about to lift up the phone and call an app developer.

“They should call us instead,” Ashshowwaf said. “Somebody called us today after they went straight to building a $40,000 website. They should have called us.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Rosslyn-based tech startup DeepSig recently raised $5 million to help develop artificial intelligence that can effectively integrate with 5G wireless systems.

“The additional funding will accelerate DeepSig’s AI and machine learning (ML) software development and deployment to improve performance and security while reducing power consumption and cost in 5G and other wireless systems,” the company said in a press release.

The company aims to build its AI from the ground up to focus around 5G coverage, rather than adapting decades-old algorithms. DeepSig says its software will be able to detect the local coverage conditions and “improve user data rates and dramatically reduce the amount of hardware and hence power.”

The new funding also shows that the company has caught the eye of some local military contractors, with some of the investment coming from Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture arm of aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin.

“The advanced technology developed by DeepSig can optimize communications within a wide spectrum environment,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. “Applying deep learning and artificial intelligence to the application of real-time signal processing is an impressive capability. We are pleased to be a part of this endeavor and work to integrate the software into programs.”

Photo via @deepsignl/Twitter

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

Crystal City-based U.Group (2231 Crystal Drive) is expanding to the midwest with a plan to open an Indianapolis office for over 100 people by the end of the year.

The expansion comes one year after the companies ByteCubed, a consulting business, and digital marketing agency CHIEF merged to create U.Group. The company bills itself as a “digital transformation partner,” which mostly means technology-driven marketing for both private companies and the federal government.

Past projects have included redesigning the National Parks website and designing augmented reality programs for the NFL.

“2019 has been an incredible year for us, and we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon,” CEO Lena Trudeau said in a press release. “Expanding our operations to a new city enables us to further accelerate our momentum — it will allow us to deliver broader capabilities, deepen existing customer relationships as well as forge new ones, and amplify the impact we create for our customers.”

The plan is to hire 12 people initially with over 100 high-skilled positions opening by the end of 2020, according to the press release.

Another company executive said in the press release that the company was drawn to the mix of tech startups and mature corporations in Indianapolis.

The company is headquartered in Arlington, with a satellite office in Portland, Oregon, and a total workforce of around 280 employees.

Photo via U.Group

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

MotoRefi, a Ballston-based car refinancing company, has fueled up with a new batch of funding and welcomed a former Uber executive along for the ride.

The company just raised $8.6 million in Series A funding, an announcement that was paired with news that former Uber executive and D.C.-based venture capitalist Rachel Holt is joining the company’s Board of Directors. Holt was an early investor in MotoRefi but joined the company in an official capacity this month.

“I’m eager to bring my experience building Uber to MotoRefi’s Board,” Holt said in a press release. “MotoRefi is transforming the world of auto financing. I’m proud to have been an early investor and am extremely excited about the team they’ve built.”

The press release noted that the new funding will allow the company to scale up with new lenders and partners.

MotoRefi checks your auto loan interest rate and tries to offer a better rate than what is provided by the dealership, factoring in things like improved credit scores.

“You make payments every month, but do you ever wonder if you could be paying less?” the company said on its website. “That’s where MotorRefi comes in.”

The company, started in 2017, aims to simplify the refinancing process to make it more accessible for the average driver still making payments on their car.

Photo courtesy MotoRefi

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

Arlington is the third-best place for women who work in tech, according to a new study.

The website SmartAsset ranked local jurisdictions by looking at a number of factors — including income relative to housing costs, the gender pay gap, percentage of tech jobs filled by women, and the four-year rate of tech employment growth.

Arlington placed No. 3, while D.C. ranked No. 2 and Baltimore ranked No. 1, according to SmartAsset’s methodology. Per the website:

Arlington, Virginia has consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the U.S., partially due to its affordable housing costs as compared to income. In this study, we found that average earnings after housing costs for women working in tech were $65,210 in 2018, the sixth-highest amount for this metric across all 59 cities. Additionally, women constitute 34% of the tech workforce in Arlington, which is the sixth-largest percentage in the study for this metric.

In all, 59 of the largest U.S. cities were ranked.

Arlington ranked highly compared to San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, mostly due to lower relative tech employment among women and a larger gender pay gap there. San Jose’s gender pay gap of 83% compared to Arlington’s 89%, while 34.5% of tech jobs in Arlington were filled by women, compared to only 21.5% in San Jose.

Sarah Eastman, a co-founder of Boolean Girl Tech in Arlington, said the county’s recognition is “well-deserved.” The company has earned national recognition for its classroom kits and camps aimed at getting young women interested in coding as part of an effort to combat the gender disparity in the tech industry.

“At Boolean Girl, we see it firsthand in our Ambassador Network, a robust community of local women in STEM who volunteer at our summer camps and Clubhouse, providing role modeling and mentorship for our girls as they learn coding, engineering and other STEM skills,” said Eastman. “These women are emblematic of the impressive talent-level in Arlington, as well as the community’s focus on giving back to the next generation, helping girls learn about STEM in a collaborative and welcoming environment.”

That sentiment was echoed by Alecia Vimala, who recently moved her startup Peercrate, which creates a “social commerce” smartphone app, to Arlington.

“I’ve only been in the area briefly, but based on my experiences, I would say the ranking is absolutely in line,” she said. “Arlington has this fresh energy and enthusiasm around innovation and technology. I feel the tech community provides real opportunities and genuine support for women championing new, innovative ideas in tech.”

There are a number of resources for women in technology in Arlington and the region. Arlington Economic Development has held a number of events focused on helping female entrepreneurs, for instance, while the groups Women Who Tech and Women in Technology are active in the region and hold occasional events.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Crystal City-based startup that works to integrate energy generated at home with the electrical grid is looking to scale up operations and create a better product, thanks to new some new funding.

Increasing adoption if electric vehicles and home solar panels have made houses a viable energy generator. Called distributed energy resources (DER), these community-generated energy sources create a two-way power flow and are generally renewable. ConnectDER, based out of Crystal City (2001 Richmond Highway), aims to make becoming a DER more accessible for homeowners.

The Simple ConnectDER is a collar that connects to a home’s circuit. Solar panels can be connected to the collar and the output moderated by the system, which operates parallel to the home’s utility grid.

According to the company website:

The Simple ConnectDER enables three key innovations in the DER installation process: it reduces the time that an electrician or utility representative must be onsite to interconnect the system to less than 10 minutes, it removes the need for installers to enter the residence (in the case of externally mounted electric meters), and it enables easy “swap-in” of future distributed generation resources as they are introduced to the market.  To date, over 5,000 ConnectDERs have been deployed to tie [solar photovoltaic] systems into the US electric grid.

The company also offers over versions of the connector with more advanced features, like an ethernet bridge and cloud accessibility.

ConnectDER recently closed on $7 million in financing.

“The growth of residential-scale DERs such as solar and storage presents an enormous challenge for utilities tasked with integrating them into the grid cost-effectively and with an outstanding customer experience,” Whitman Fulton, CEO of ConnectDER, said in a press release. “At ConnectDER, we’re delivering technologies that can connect and transform these traditionally unmanaged resources — solar, storage, and EV charging–into grid-supporting assets at a fraction of the cost of current practices.”

“This funding underscores the market recognition that ConnectDER offers what utilities need to maximize the value of residential-scale technologies for the 21st century,” Fulton added.

The company will use the new funding to scale up operations and its supply chain, the company said in the release. The company is also looking to enhance the energy storage of the collar. A new version of the ConnectDER device that launched last week.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Scoutbee, a tech company based in Crystal City, is looking to scale up after scoring $60 million in a fresh round of funding.

The company builds software that links artificial intelligence (AI) technology and big data to create more efficient supply shipments. The technology can track trends and make predictions based on extensive data about where certain types of supplies are needed.

The firm, founded in 2015 and also based in Germany, has contracts with high-profile companies like Audi, Airbus and Bosch.

The new funding will allow the company to expand by 100 employees and double down on research and development for new products, the company said in a press release.

“Scoutbee will further expand its R&D, accelerate customer growth and explore strategic acquisitions,” the company said in a press release. “Scoutbee’s already diverse team will be scaled up from 120 staff today to around 220 across BerlinWurzburg and Washington D.C. by the end of 2020 (including new roles in engineering, AI / ML, product development, sales and marketing).”

The central product at scoutbee (the lower case name is the official company name, not a typo) is called ARTIMIS, an AI tool that the company says “continually mines vast amounts of data and centralizes details about suppliers and products across hundreds of dimensions and across languages.”

The company currently has offices at 2550 S. Clark Street in Crystal City.

Photo via scoutbee/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Higher Logic (1919 N. Lynn Street),an engagement platform that uses community and marketing automation to improve customer and member experiences., is still growing quickly.

The company, founded 13 years ago, helps people within companies, nonprofits and member-based organizations build stronger communities, according to a company spokesperson. It was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the country last year.

Higher Logic was founded under Rob Wenger, who is the executive chairman. It moved to Rosslyn in 2018 and now has offices in Portland; Saratoga Springs, New York; and Australia.

The company’s nonprofit customers include organizations like 340B Health and the American Association of Airport Executives.

Though Higher Logic specializes in building online communities, development of marketing automation and integration of pre-existing platforms, according to a company spokesperson.

The software gives people the tool to to facilitate efficient conversations, clear up confusion and answer questions by connecting the right people and even help people form mentorships, the spokesperson said.

Throughout the years, the company has received grants and awards including a $60,000 grant from Arlington Economic Development. It was also listed in 2016 as one of Virginia’s Fantastic 50 Companies by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview published by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Hunter Montgomery, who was previously in charge of the Higher Logic’s marketing, said the company’s growth can be at least partially attributed to its acquisition of two companies: Informz and Real Magnet, Inc.

Now, the company employs around 320 people and is actively hiring, according to a press release, which added that the company is looking to take on roughly 30 new employees in almost every department.

Every year around the fall, Higher Logic hosts a conference in D.C. bringing together clients from around the country. The spokesperson said the gathering serves as a training opportunity to educate customers on how to use the software and allows people to brainstorm new potential improvements and give feedback.

The 2020 conference is set for September.

Photo via Higher Logic/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fend, a Ballston-based cybersecurity firm founded in August 2017, landed an investment from the Center for Innovative Technology’s (CIT) CIT GAP Fund earlier this fall. That’s on top of the $1.2 million Department of Energy Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant earmarked for shielding the country’s solar energy installations from cyberattacks.

The recent developments, said Fend CEO Colin Dunn, take the company beyond its bootstrap origins, an achievement the five full-time staffers–many of them recently relocated from elsewhere in the country–are rightly proud of. In addition to the employees at the Ballston office, Fend has a network of contractors “throughout the Commonwealth,” Dunn said, who help the company accomplish its ambitious mission of preventing cyberattacks to physical structures. Those include everything from military installations to power plants to public water systems, and even moving vehicles.

In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), everything, particularly cumbersome industrial plants and utilities, is vulnerable to hackers. Fend’s proprietary system is a hybrid of integrated hardware and software that provides real-time monitoring of data, all of it intended “to keep the bad guys out,” Dunn said.

Fend was founded at a business accelerator in Reston before moving to Clarendon and then, most recently, to Ballston. Dunn said the employees who have relocated from out of state are finding Arlington’s amenities to be, well, amenable, particularly the transportation options.

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